ISSN 2330-717X

Burma: Sanctions Must Be Maintained As War Continues In Kachin State – OpEd


By Zin Linn

Burmese government armed forces have been fighting relentlessly against the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) since 9 June last year. However, the Burma army’s offensives were in vain as the KIO’s armed wing, the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), have been practicing guerrilla warfare in their land.

KIA soldiers’ strength of mind is still high because they consider themselves freedom fighters within their own geographical landscape. However, at the same time, the Burmese government soldiers have low guts since they have to fight against their adversaries in a war zone which is unfamiliar to them. Besides, they do not have enough food, ammunition or medicine supplies in their base units.

According to officials from the Kachin Independence Army, the Burmese army has suffered serious fatalities since the KIA resistance troops used surprise ambush attacks. As said by the KIO, intercepts of army’s radio messages reveal a shocking number of lethally wounded soldiers on the side of the Burmese army.

Although Burma’s President Thein Sein has issued an instruction twice to Burma‘s Commander-in-Chief to halt the offensive against the KIO, the war continues and the people continue to run for their lives.

Burma’s armed forces continue nonstop to attack positions held by the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) in Kachin and the northern Shan state. In the face of President Thein Sein’s second order to halt the offensive against the Kachin rebels, the Burmese army has continued its aggressive operation against the KIA and Kachin civilians so far.

Fighting between government forces and the Kachin resistance was particularly fierce recently in an area in the northern Shan state scheduled to be the route of the Burma to China Shwe-gas pipeline project. The KIA’s Battalion 8 endured heavy shelling in three Shan townships that lie in the path of the pipeline – Namtu, Mandong and Kutkai – quoting sources on the ground, Kachin News Group said.

A key Battalion 8 base in Mandong stayed in KIA hands despite a strong push from government forces, which included a continuous three hour bombing using heavy mortars, KIA officials said.

The Kachin News Group has also observed that on Tuesday, one day ahead of peace talks set to begin in China, the Burmese army moved troops, artillery shells and armored vehicles to an area within firing range of the KIO’s Laiza headquarters. The equipment and troop reinforcements that arrived are now stationed in the Ga Ra Yang village less than 30 miles from Laiza, according to eyewitnesses in the area.

On January 15, a convey of 25 trucks containing government troops arrived at a Burma Army base in Daw-hpum-yang sub-township on the Myitkyina-Manmaw road, about 10 miles from Laiza, said local military observers.

In an interview with Lah Nan, the KIO’s Deputy General Secretary No.2 based at the groups Laiza headquarters, to the Kachin News Group, he said that about 160 government battalions from around the country are either currently deployed in the Kachin campaign or are on their way to the frontlines of Kachin and the northern Shan state.

Several Kachin citizens believe the reason of renewing the war after a 17-year ceasefire is the craving for natural resources in the Kachin State by the Burmese military-backed government. That’s why it strives to widen its control of the areas with Chinese power projects.

Those energy projects in the areas controlled by the KIA are a cause for tension. After protests last year by Kachin civilians, President Thein Sein postponed the Myitsone dam project sponsored by a Chinese company sharing with the Burmese military. The postponement annoyed Chinese officials who think Thein Sein is trying to minimize Burma’s trust on China and to persuade investment from the Western democracies.

According to Agence France-Presse, Burma’s immigration and population minister, Khin Yi, said that the latest order to halt hostilities “covers the whole country”. Khin Yi, who previously served as a national police chief claimed that the reason fighting was still taking place is because the army accidentally encountered resistance.

“Some of the grassroots level units, when on patrolling duty, unexpectedly met each other and exchanged fire. Sometimes, the order – not to attack – did not reach to the grassroots level,” Khin Yi told AFP.

However, KIA officials and others with knowledge of the government’s armed forces say that the heavy artillery fired these days in the Shan state against the KIA are only used with the permission from the army’s central command.

It’s visibly clear that President Thein Sein’s commands to stop the offensive are definitely worthless statements issued to satisfy the international community. It seems to be a deceitful tactic.

If it is true, the government has no earnest purpose to stop the war against not only the KIO/KIA but also against innocent Kachin civilians. Thus, Western democracies must think over and over again regarding lifting of sanctions as a reward for the Thein Sein government.

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Asian Correspondent

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One thought on “Burma: Sanctions Must Be Maintained As War Continues In Kachin State – OpEd

  • January 22, 2012 at 11:55 am

    I’m the Director of the Burma Democratic Concern (BDC), and I’m a Burmese. In the past, we had supported sanction on Burma. Now, due to the positive development in Burma and due to the reputation risk affected on Burmese people as such we call for lifting TRADE, TOURISM and INVESTMENT Sanction on Burma. Investment will strengthen democratisation of Burma by bringing in knowledge, skill, democratic values and above all flourishing institutions by encouraging establishing respective labour unions.

    Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has already invited investment and tourism in Burma. Burma is facing challenges ahead which we must address sensibly, wisely and realistically. Burma must resolve poverty, corruptions, poor technology, and lack of expertise, poor banking, unemployment and inflation and fiscal and monetary policies. We calls for investment in Burma which will significantly boost the welfare of the Burmese people. Burma must work hard to end the economics monopoly and cronyism in Burma. We welcome tourists visiting Burma so as to promote ordinary Burmese people engaging with people from around the world.

    Burma needs technology and financial assistance from international community to help rebuilding the nation after five decades of isolation and economics mismanagement. Burma Democratic Concern (BDC) is very concerned that due to the sanction imposed on Burma as the subsequence crucial international aid are stopped delivering in Burma. Burma needs more humanitarian assistance and development aid inside Burma. If there are obstacles blocking aids going inside Burma then we must remove them immediately since we don’t want to hurt the livelihood of the ordinary people of Burma whom are suffering from reputation risk.

    Burma receives less foreign aid money than any country in Southeast Asia because of the sanction imposed on Burma. For example, in 2009-10 Burma receives only $US7.2 per capita of Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) while neighbouring Laos received $US64.4. Particularly international community must remove all sanctions that block technical assistance in health and social welfare. We are very shocked to learn that restrictions imposed by western countries prohibit assistance from reaching any member of the government because of which prohibit providing any assistance such as even providing training to teachers and health workers.

    We call for International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank (WB) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) could help tackling poverty in Burma. Burma Democratic Concern (BDC) truly believes that Burma is on the right track for democratic change. In order to help reliving the suffering of the people of Burma, we must have common position amongst all parties concerned by putting national interest first. Burma Democratic Concern (BDC) calls for international community to remove TOURISM, TRADE and INVESTMENT sanction on Burma and to encourage Burmese government’s reform process which had already started.


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